We examine the extent to which personality traits and variables based on the theory of collective action (i.e., incentives) can explain protest participation. We use the Big Five personality traits, measured by a list of bipolar adjectives: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Incentives are political discontent and perceived personal influence, perceived obligation to protest and social incentives (i.e., integration in protest encouraging social networks). We hypothesize that personality traits have an effect on incentives and, together with incentives, on protest behavior. We test our hypotheses with a two-wave panel study, conducted in Leipzig (East Germany), where a total of 438 persons were interviewed in 1993 and 1996. Major findings are that personality traits have only weak effects on protest, compared to the variables of the theory of collective action, and that personality traits have various effects on the independent variables (i.e., the incentives) of the theory of collective action.

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